Djibouti hails Saudi military presence in African country as way to boost bilateral ties
Iran Press TV
Tue Nov 28, 2017 06:38PM
Djibouti's Defense Minister Ali Bahdon has welcomed the establishment of a Saudi military base on the soil of the African country, saying Djibouti-Riyadh relations are not confined to military cooperation.
In an interview with the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, the transcript of which was published in the UK-based daily on Tuesday, Bahdon said that Saudi experts had already arrived in Djibouti to assess military cooperation.
"The sides have signed a military agreement [in April]… If the base is constructed, it will become a part of the military cooperation between the two nations, and we welcome its creation," he said, adding that trainees and students from Djibouti were studying in military colleges in Saudi Arabia.
Bahdon further said the facility would contribute to the military cooperation between the two countries, noting that the bilateral relations exceeded military cooperation to reach historical, ideological and cultural ties.
"There are historical, ideological and cultural relations with the kingdom, and we are one people who share the same values, and we have the same issues and problems; relations are much greater now, as we are in a new phase of geopolitical changes in the region," Bahdon went on to say.
According to the minister, the base would not be a solution to the problem of smuggling across the sea, as "it has limits in which it operates and powers that serve specific goals."
Late last year, Djibouti's Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf announced that his country would welcome the Saudi proposal of setting up a military base in the African country, saying Saudi military authorities had made several investigative trips to his country for the establishment of a facility there.
Djibouti, a resource-poor nation strategically situated in the Horn of Africa, relies on donations from Saudi Arabia. The country has been following Saudi Arabia's footsteps in its foreign policy, among them severing its diplomatic relations with Iran in January and making "baseless" claims about Tehran's intervention in the affairs of Arab countries.
Djibouti hosts a number of foreign military and naval facilities, including those belonging to China, Japan, Italy, France and the United States. Riyadh, however, perceives the whole poor African country as a base, from which it can thoroughly dominate the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb Strait in a bid to exert more pressure on Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement, which is defending the country against the Saudi war machine.
Furthermore, Riyadh seems to plan to use the base more as an intelligence outpost, through which it could be able to monitor Iran's purported movements in the region. Saudi leaders accuse Iran of financing and arming the Houthis, an allegation that Iran strongly rejects, calling it delusional.
Saudi Arabia has spearheaded a military coalition against Yemen, ceaselessly pounding the impoverished country since March 2015 in an attempt to crush Ansarullah and reinstate the former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of the regime in Riyadh.
According to the latest figures, the war has so far killed over 12,000 Yemenis and wounded thousands more. The Saudi aggression has also taken a heavy toll on the country's facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.
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